As artists, we know a little thing or two about DIY, after all we pretty much invented the term. It makes sense then that we would wear many hats when working professionally. Whether that means building our brand, pitching our own work, or marketing ourselves on social media. That’s why we invited Sea Tea Improv, Hartford’s favorite improv comedians, to share their expertise on social media and networking to the apprentices at Neighborhood Studios, the Arts Council’s summer arts education program for teens. The first thing to remember when using social media professionally is that some platforms are more effective than others for reaching your audience. These days we’re all glued to some or all of the Big Four social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, so a professional presence on these platforms is necessary, though not sufficient, for gaining exposure. Rest assured, we did the hard work for you. Dan Russell of Sea Tea Improv breaks down the different social media platforms that are most effective for every type of artist. Check out the list below with some added tips from yours truly.
Filmmakers: Vimeo, YouTube, Vine
Visual Artists & Photographers: Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr
Musicians: SoundCloud, YouTube
Performing Artists: All platforms.
Regardless of which network you choose, the key to success on social media starts with being social. That means you’ll want to find a community of other like-minded people who can inspire you and support your work. Can’t find a community? Create one! As Dan says “collaboration is more productive than competition.” Another key to success on social media is to share original content. There’s no reason for anyone to follow you unless you create content that is worth sharing, whether it’s an inspiring video, a breathtaking photograph, or thought-provoking blog post. Blogs are a great way to complement your social media presence, gain exposure, and grow a following or readership.
Now on to the second, and arguably more intimidating, component of the Career Skills workshop: Networking. The Sea Tea Improv team emphasize the importance of demonstrating an interest in the person you’re networking with rather than focusing on yourself. In fact, the members introduced each other instead of introducing themselves. Here are a few things to remember when networking:
- Collaborate: don’t just talk about yourself; ask people about their projects and figure out how you can work together. People always appreciate when someone shows an interest in their work or offers solutions to their professional challenges, so this is a good way to make an impression.
- Listen: listening is just as important as talking when networking. That means demonstrating attentiveness with non-verbal cues, such as staying off your phone, making eye contact, nodding, and verbal cues – saying yes, repeating information back to the person to whom you’re talking, and discussing your stories.
- Follow-up: a networking opportunity stops short if you don’t stay in contact. Exchange business cards or contact information for future collaborations. A good way to follow-up is to send an email with a suggestion to meet for coffee and ideas for how to collaborate.
That’s it for now! Do you have any networking and social media tips of your own? Share them in the comments.